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Wind energy projects draw community criticism  

Credit:  By Alan Yonan Jr. | Honolulu Star-Advertiser | www.staradvertiser.com 12 September 2012 ~~

Concerns about proposed wind turbine projects on Lanai and Molokai dominated public comments Tuesday night at a meeting held by state and federal officials who are putting together a document to help plan renewable energy development in the state. The so-called scoping meeting, held at the McKinley High School cafeteria, was one of eight to be held around the state over the next two weeks by the U.S. Energy Department and the Hawaii State Energy Office. The document being developed, called a “programmatic environmental impact statement,” or PEIS, will not specify any particular renewable energy projects or locations, However, the information generated in the process ultimately will be used as a foundation for developers pursuing specific projects. It is the second attempt by officials to move forward with a renewable energy PEIS after an earlier attempt in 2010 by the state Energy Office was halted because its scope was considered too narrow, focusing on wind energy projects proposed for Molokai, Lanai and Maui that would be connected to Oahu via an undersea transmission cable. The state brought in the U.S. Department of Energy and expanded the range of analysis to include all forms of renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative transportation fuels and electrical transportation and distribution. “After the last round of scoping meetings, we realized that we weren’t looking broadly enough. We knew we needed to look at more than wind, and we needed to look at the whole state,” said Jane Summerson, who is managing the PEIS process for the Department of Energy. The meeting drew about 80 members of the public, including 33 who signed up to speak. Those commenting included Diane Preza from Lanai, where Castle & Cooke is proposing a 200-megawatt wind project. PUBLIC MEETINGS CONTINUE The U.S. Department of Energy has scheduled more meetings to solicit public comment on the environmental study it is conducting for the state’s renewable energy plan: >> Today: 5:30-9 p.m, Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall >> Thursday: 5-8:30 p.m., Kealakehe High School >> Friday: 5-8:30 p.m, Hilo High School >> Monday: 5:30-9 p.m., Pomaikai Elementary School, Kahu­lui >> Tuesday: 5-8:30 p.m., Lanai High & Elementary School >> Sept. 19: 5-9 p.m., Mitchell Pauole Community Center, Kaunakakai, Molokai >> Sept. 20: 5-8:30 p.m, Castle High School “Lanai is too small to support an industrial wind project. Development of such a large-scale project is asking too much of us,” Preza said. “Focus on energy independence on each island. Explore the alternatives. Don’t make us Oahu’s battery,” she said. John Delacruz, a retired social worker from Lanai, said he was concerned that developers like Castle & Cooke might not wait for the PEIS to be completed. “The programmatic EIS may not have an impact on these specific projects and how they’re being managed. In the meantime, the developers and the legislators are moving on a parallel track, and they may never meet up with the PEIS,” Delacruz said. However, Mark Glick, head of the state Energy Office, said the plan is to have the PEIS completed within 18 months. That means the PEIS would be finished six months before developers would be eligible to submit plans for renewable energy projects to the Public Utilities Commission, Glick said. “Construction can’t begin until the PUC signs off on it. They would then have to conduct a specific EIS,” Glick said. “That means that they would be able to take advantage of an approved PEIS” as a guide.

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Source:  By Alan Yonan Jr. | Honolulu Star-Advertiser | www.staradvertiser.com 12 September 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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